Synthesis of small molecules targeting multiple DNA structures using click chemistry

Lesley A. Howell, Richard A. Bowater, Maria A. O'Connell, Anthony P. Reszka, Stephen Neidle, Mark Searcey

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The ability of small molecules to target DNA forms the basis of many clinically used antitumour agents. This study examines the effects of novel 9-aminoacridine carboxamides, synthesised by click chemistry based upon the reactions of either 9-(2-azidoethyl)amino or 9-propargylaminoacridine compounds, on various types of DNA tertiary structures. This gave either monomeric or dimeric compounds, the dimeric derivatives being the first unsymmetrical acridine dimers to be described. The compounds were assayed for duplex DNA, quadruplex DNA and four-way junction DNA binding. Their antiproliferative activity in the Human promyelocytic leukaemia cell line, HL60, was also assessed. Although for some of the compounds, notably the acridine 4-carboxamides, activity correlated with DNA binding affinity, for others it did not, with the rigidly linked dimers in particular showing a complicated relationship between 3- and 4-carboxamide structure and biological activity. The monomeric 3-carboxamides were more effective at stabilising G-quadruplex structures and also gave more hits in the four-way junction stabilisation assay. There is clear evidence from the binding of the 3-carboxamides that these compounds destabilise the openX form of the junction at lower concentrations and stabilise the X-stacked at higher concentrations. This might have implications for the biological activity of these compounds against proteins that bind to the Holliday junction (HJ). © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-804
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Early online date29 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • acridines
  • click chemistry
  • DNA
  • Holliday junction
  • quadruplexes

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